Superlatives were the order of the day as The Temple concluded a yearlong sesquicentennial celebration with its annual meeting Tuesday, May 22.
The occasion marked the end of Lauren Grien’s two-year term as president and the beginning of Janet Lavine’s stint.
“I hit the jackpot with you as my executive vice president,” Grien told Lavine. “You are a wonderful complement to me, and I can’t thank you enough for all your support. You are so ready to be president. You’re an incredible leader, and it’s easy for me to step aside knowing The Temple couldn’t be in better hands. I’m here if you need me, but I don’t think you will.”
Grien thanked The Temple’s staff and clergy, saying to the latter: “I have really loved working with each one of you. Your intellect, creativity, caring and devotion to our temple knows no bounds. Because of you, The Temple is so much more than a synagogue — it is a warm and welcoming home.”
She reminded the audience that when she began her tenure in 2016, she invoked the Hippocratic Oath. “Had I known then what I know now, I definitely would have set a higher standard. You see, when you are surrounded and supported by such incredible clergy, staff and leadership, it’s impossible for any president to do harm.”
Grien said The Temple is a trailblazer in the Reform movement and the envy of others who want to replicate its success.
Senior Rabbi Peter Berg lauded Grien’s accomplishments, many affecting The Temple’s future.
“Lauren has strategically guided the process by which our next 10 years will have purpose and will be guided by achievable outcomes. Because of her leadership, we will continue to go from strength to strength,” he said.
He spoke of her “keen financial sensibility” and her ability to “make tough decisions — to forecast properly and to balance our multimillion-dollar budget for both years of her term.”
Rabbi Berg noted that during Grien’s tenure, The Temple was recognized by the Georgia Historical Society as a national civil rights historic site, and he credited her work with the Rothschild Social Justice Institute.
“Another of Lauren’s deep passions is the expansion of our welcoming and inclusivity. Lauren has worked on this with a particular focus on our African-American Jewish prospective members,” he said, calling her the “greatest champion of our engagement efforts.”
Rabbi Berg, who is starting a sabbatical from The Temple after a decade as its senior rabbi, also honored Rabbi Loren Filson Lapidus for 10 years of service, hailing her as a “comforter, consoler and confidante, a visionary, a seer, a cheerleader and an entrepreneur.”
At the end of the meeting, Rabbi Berg invited attendees to look at The Temple’s new History Wall, showing timelines and artifacts and an interactive exhibit profiling significant participants in its past.
He said it took the administrations of three presidents to put it all together, “but look how magnificent it is. We have 150 years of stories that need to be told and preserved so they can inform the future.”